By Richard L. Gaw
At their Jan. 27 meeting, the New Garden Board of Supervisors passed a motion to permit a needs assessment to be conducted on the township's police department.
In his presenttaion to the board, New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Simpson told the supervisors that the primary reason and importance of a needs assessment will be to provide professional guidance on determning a future home for the department, which now occupies double-wide trailers on Route 41, following the closure of its former location adacent to the trailers, which was shut down due to the detection of asbestos last year.
"Is the current location adequate?" supervisor Randy Geouque asked Simpson.
Simpson said that although the department is "making due" in its trailers, he told Geouque that the current location is "substandard" when it comes to a law enforcement facility.
"This is a problem and it's going to take time to figure out," Simpson said. "We're dealing with something that's of no surpise to anyone in the township. This has been a problem for many, many years. Our first steps to understanding how to spend the township's dollars the best way is through a needs assessment, and that's what this will do."
Simpson told the supervisors that he is looking to advertise for a needs assessment for the department through bid in the next 15 to 30 days, for a report that he expects will be delivered in mid-June. At a conference he recently attended, Simpson said that he was informed that the cost for such an assessment ranges between $10,000 and $50,000.
"(The costs) depends on what we're looking for," Simpson said. "If we start asking them to analyze things about the township, our costs are going to go up. If we direct their analysis to looking into the potential of a stand-alone facility, it may cost less."
After further discussion between Simpson and the board, supervisor Patrick Little made a motion to agree to the needs assessment, for a cost not to exceed $30,000. The motion was approved.
The board also approved the hiring of Jose Reyes and Ryan Kushner as part-time police officers for the department.
Simpson also requested $96,000 for the purchase of two new police vehicles for the department, as well as electronic equipment related to the vehicles. The board did not come to a conclusive decision on whether to grant Simpson's request for the purchase of the vehicles.
The board also approved the sale of 6 12-gauge pump shotguns, previously used by the township police, to some of its officers. The guns, Simpson said, are no longer in use by the department, and will either be destroyed or used privately by the officers. They are valued at $175 apiece.
In other township business, Shawn Carroll, deputy chief with the Avondale Fire Company, gave a brief presentation that filled the board and residents in on the activities the company has been involved in over the last year. In 2013, the company handled 1304 EMS calls, 56 percent of which came from residents in New Garden Township, as well as responded to 502 calls for fire last year, 56 percent of which came from the township. Carroll said that during 2013, the company was able to save nearly 89 percent of the homes and structures it tended to in the township.
Although the company has a budget in excess of $525,000 in 2014, its anticipated expenses for this year are estimated to totaql in excess of $728,000, mostly due to the purchase of a new fire engine, which Carroll said cost $635,000.
Claire Finfrock, a member of the Kennett Area Park and Recreation Board of Directors, gave an update of current and future programs for children, teenagers and adults, as well as running events planned for 2014. She also gave an update on the many improvements made to Herb Pennock Park, which have included the addition of new fencing, new signage, plantings, paving, a storage shed, and a new walking trail on the exterior of the park, which connects to the Kennett Square Borough. The township has budgeted $5,000 toward Kennett Area Park and Recreation in 2014.
The board approved a motion to authorize interim township manager Spence Andress to secure a proposal from National Penn Bank for a 5-year loan in the amount of $186,000 to pay for various capital purhases included in the township's 2014 budget.